ActRaiser 2 is a game released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System by Enix (and Ubisoft in Europe). The game itself is a sequel to the previous “ActRaiser”, and sets the stage for all future games in the ActRaiser series.
In ActRaiser 2, the plot follows the same basic plot as the original, with the player being known as “The Master” and there being a singular, main evil entity. Unlike ActRaiser, ActRaiser 2 features a purely sidescroller style of gameplay. While many find this feature to be beneficial to the series, it does change the genre entirely; no longer is the element of being a “god” or the SimCity-like overworld control present. No longer can the player actually define the world in which the plot plays out. Ultimately, your goal as the player is to traverse each platforming level in order to slay six demons known as the Deadly Sins in an effort to prevent evil from taking over the Universe. Notably, the game is not a true sequel, but may in fact be a prequel to ActRaiser.
ActRaiser 2’s graphics are breathtaking, having been significantly updated since the first installment. While the game isn’t a true sequel to the first installment, it is an upgrade in every way, and details are more vibrant than ever. Despite it’s 16-bit nature, ActRaiser 2’s characters are wonderfully detailed, the environments exquisitely colorful and vibrant, and the palettes used in perfect harmony. I can’t imagine a better way to pull off a 16-bit sidescroller.
The music of ActRaiser 2 takes after the graphics; in ActRaiser 2, every single soundtrack resembles those of Star Wars. Each stage’s mood is set by an amazing score consisting of a huge band of a variety of instruments, turning one’s home theatre into a personal symphony in your own living room. This game’s audio blew me away.
The learning curve in ActRaiser 2 is moderate, and the difficulty of adapting to the control scheme is fairly low. After moving to this game directly after having played ActRaiser part one, I can easily master the controls for the pure-platformer. Since I don’t need to worry about controlling anything in “god” mode, everything is fairly straightforward.
Overall, ActRaiser 2 is a decent installment in the ActRaiser series. While it has certainly been outdone in later installments, and ActRaiser part one was indeed superior, ActRaiser 2 in all its sidescrolling, platforming combat glory, receives a firm 3.5/5 from me. And if you’re looking for some cheats or secrets for ActRaiser 2, you can check them out here.
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks for the Nintendo DS is the latest installment to the renowned Legend of Zelda series. The game has you once again donning the role of link, the blond pint-size hero of the series, dashing around Hyrule trying to stop the resurrection of the Demon King. This time however you explore Hyrule using the Spirit train and you get a long awaited companion in your quest; Princess Zelda.
The game begins with our young hero receiving his engineer certificate and a request from Princess Zelda to help her bust out of the castle and find out what is causing the Spirit Tracks, magical train tracks that criss-cross the land, to disappear. These tracks, created by a race of celestial train folk (yes you read that correctly, they have wheels for feet) called the Lokomos; keep the Demon King sealed away beneath the ground. If destroyed The Demon King will come back and rain fire and destruction upon the land. One thing leads to another and Zelda’s spirit is forced out of her body by the villains, whereupon she joins Link on his journey.
The gameplay for all intents and purposes is identical to the game’s predecessor Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. It uses the same gameplay, artistic style and even a few carry over characters for you Linebeck fans out there. Your stylus controls all of Link’s movements and actions. This does take some time getting used to because most items require you to stop moving to use them, leaving you vulnerable to attack. You get a new assortment of items at your disposal; some old favorites like the boomerang and bow to a new batch including a whip, megaphone and the new musical instrument, the pan flute. You use the pan flute to open up spirit tracks in the game’s 4 ½ regions. To actually play it, you shift the stylus across the screen over the correct pipe and blow into the DS’ microphone. The notes are displayed on the top screen and are easy enough to follow.
Then there is, of course, the Spirit Train. You control the train with your stylus, selecting which tracks to take and fighting baddies with your cannon. A vast majority of the game is spent in the train and it can get pretty redundant. The game has a lot of side quests and mini games to complete so there is always something to do, but a lot of these are simply plodding along with passengers or cargo and the reward is usually just a small stretch of track opening. It can get old quickly. The game also includes a battle mode, where you and three friends can get together and complete puzzles and dungeons. I unfortunately couldn’t test out this mode in time for the review.
One good point to the game is the inclusion of Princess Zelda and the Phantoms. During specific points in the game Zelda can possess these hulking suits of armor and aid you in the dungeon. This is the first time that Zelda has actually been an active character in a Legend of Zelda game. Many older fans should be pretty excited about this. Her dialogue is pretty funny, but controlling her and Link at the same time can be daunting. There is a lot of trial-and-error to solve some of the puzzles. It is worth it though; having her follow you around is very reminiscent of Al from Fullmetal Alchemist. I kept expecting Zelda to yell out “Brother!” whenever Link would get hurt.
I would say that this is a decent addition to the Legend of Zelda universe. The gameplay is really hit or miss depending on your preferences, so if you liked Phantom Hourglass you’ll probably enjoy this. The story is obviously meant for a younger audience so older fans should gear themselves up for that. The game is good though with a good amount of exploration and side quests to keep you entertained. If you are a big fan of the series this one is worth a play through. If you are a younger fan, sit back and enjoy a kooky, fun adventure.
EA Sports has made a name for itself as the preeminent sports video game maker. Whether you have a Playstation 2, an Xbox, or anything else under then sun, odds are that you’ll be able to play your favorite sport via one of EA’s titles. One of their best selling games has always been the Tiger Woods line. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2006 for Playstation 2 brings a number of new features and is redesigned for better and more realistic game play.
Tiger Woods 2006 first offers an all new Rivals mode that allows you to pit yourself against some of the greatest golfers ever on you way to becoming the greatest golfer of all time. Play against legends like Jack Nickalus, Arnold Palmer, and pros from today like Vijay Singh. Beat them and increase your overall ranking until you become the undisputed #1 golfer ever. Tiger’ll challenge you here and there, and you won’t be able to become number one until you meet his expectations. A unique aspect of the rivals mode is that you won’t only play legends of golf, but you’ll travel back in time to play them during the peak of their careers, making it even more difficult for you. Each pro will challenge you to things like long drive challenges and putting contents. Beat them and increase your ability and ranking.
Something much different in Tiger Woods 2006 than earlier editions is the new shot mechanics. Previously you could swing and put with using only one analog stick. Now you can use the other to put spin on the ball, or you can change the point of impact for fades and draws, as well as high lofted shots or low stinging drives. Putting is completely different as well. Instead of offering you distances, i.e. Aim 6 inches left and 1 foot long, you have to fend for yourself by reading the green correctly. It takes a little getting used to but it makes the game that much more realistic and challenging.
Also new to the 2006 version is the ability to place wagers on your shots and rounds. Up the ante before a challenge or match by agreeing to harder conditions or by removing clubs and skills. If you win you end up with that much more cash to spend at the pro shop. You can also call your shot. Put some cash down and see if you can bank your shot of the tree and onto the green when you are playing heads up. It’s hard, but you’ll surely impress your competitors if you can pull it off. There are plenty of new courses and golfers to keep things interesting, including a few hidden gems and players that will surprise you.
As a reward for playing well and hitting good shots, the 2006 model has a new gamebreaker meter that increases with every well-played shot. Post a low score and it increases until you can use your built up meter for making fantastic shots in clutch situations. The better you get, the more likely you’ll be able to hole out from 250 yards for a double eagle.
Tiger Woods 2006 is available for play online if you have a compatible Playstation 2 system. Up to 4 players can play, and it is rated E for everyone. You can buy it almost anywhere for around $30. This is the best golf game out there, so if you know someone who likes video games and likes golf, then this is a great gift.
The unobtrusive nature of text messaging seems to trump all of its downfalls in today’s technologically savvy society. We can sneak little messages to the ones we love, send notes and reminders without disrupting someone’s day, and hold conversations when you’ve lost your voice and don’t feel like pouring your heart into an e-mail. On the whole, text messaging is a great tool in communication – but it still holds its own faults.
Instead of calling a friend to see if they’re still awake and willing to hit up that late night party with you, you can just send them a text message and if they’re awake, you’ll get a response. If not, you can go on the chance that they’re probably asleep, and feel safe knowing they won’t kill you the next time they see you for waking them up the night before a big meeting.
If you’re in a movie theater and just endured the pre-show ad banning the use of cell phones, but thought of a brilliant idea for your dad’s birthday party, you can slyly sneak out your phone (attempting to cover the light from the screen, of course) and text your sister to share your great idea. Or maybe even text yourself so you don’t forget!
There are many advantages to text message technology, but it can be brought off of its pedestal when it comes to real life conversation. You lose that true life interaction you get with a face-to-face conversation, or even a chat on the phone. The expressions and verbal articulation are gone – “LOL”s and emoticons can only do so much. A sad face on a tiny cell phone screen is a poor substitute for a hug when someone just found out their dog died. The same goes for work etiquette – you wouldn’t send your boss a text message letting them know you’re sick and won’t make the big meeting. It’s all a matter of tact.
In addition to avoiding inappropriate texting situations, you want to stear clear of saying anything you might regret someone reading later – be it the person you sent, or everyone else in that person’s phone book. Aside from those paranoid enough to record all their phone calls, it’s much safer to have a vicious argument with your cross-country significant other during a phone call than to send a threatening text that can easily be traced back to you. It’s not only embarrassing; it could have much more dire consequences. In a world that is rapidly grasping at technology to help solve crimes and track down perpetrators, it can mean bad news when something you sent out of anger is shown to an officer of the law who didn’t know you weren’t really going to take his cat and shove it down the garbage chute.
Some things need to be left to personal interaction, while others can alternatively be left to the ways of texting. Text messaging has given us a quick and easy way to interact with family and friends on the fly, but left us with more responsibility. Common sense and good judgment are essential when dealing with text messaging – the phone and the screen may be small, but the consequences might not.
Before The Matrix Trilogy and before The Terminator there were other cinematic explorations of technology wreaking havoc on poor, unsuspecting humans.
Technological innovations make life better and easier, right? Not for the characters in these films. Technology has run amok, and human kind needs to be saved.
If you haven’t seen any of these examples of technology run amok on celluloid, then you are truly missing out.
Next time you’re in the mood to rent a flick, find one or a couple of these films, turn off your computer and enjoy!
Warning: this article does contain some spoilers, if you have never seen the movies.
Top Technophobe Films of All Time: 1960s
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) directed by Stanley Kubrick.
When your life is in the hands of a computer, and that computer screws up, what do you do then? Chances are you’ve already seen this classic.
Top Technophobe Films of All Time: 1970s
Logan’s Run (1976) directed by Michael Anderson.
Logan’s Run is more than just a pretty face. Young, fit attractive people seem to be living a hedonistic lifestyle in one big enclosed mall.
Farrah Fawcett does have a bit role in this sci-fi film in which anyone beyond the age of 30 is killed off in order to control the population. Everyone has a crystal embedded in their hand that changes color as they age. When the crystal turns black your life is over. Technophobes will appreciate this movie because what started out as a technological innovation to control the population became unnecessary, yet the majority of the population simply accepted their fate without question. (A precursor to The Matrix?)
Michael Anderson also directed Millennium (1989), a time travel movie with Cheryl Ladd and Kris Kristsofferson.
Westworld (1973) directed by Micheal Chrichton.
Visiting Westworld for vacation sounds like such a good idea. Guests get to visit an Old Western town, complete with robots programmed to entertain. Yul Brenner is a robot cowboy, how cool is that? Westworld is a nice place to visit….until something of course goes awry.
Top Technophobe Films of All Time: 1980s
In Looker, TV models are sent to a plastic surgeon to correct minor imperfections. Even then they aren’t “perfect” enough and are slowly killed off and replaced with digital images.
Anyone considering plastic surgery or is seeking “perfection” through technology would do well to see this film. While it seemed more like a warning when it was made, it appears society took it the other way, seeing it as a blueprint for making the world around them a prettier place. When every image is photoshopped and animated women become the ideal body type, Houston we have a problem.
Looker was written and directed by the king of technophobe and medical advancement movies: Michael Chricton. Michael Chricton is also responsible for The Andromeda Strain, Coma, and the Jurassic Park movies.
BladeRunner (1982) directed by Ridley Scott.
Much has been written about the slow and dark BladeRunner. It was one of the first films to examine genetic engineering, and it does star Harrison Ford, so there are some pluses.
Videodrome (1983) directed by David Cronenberg.
Videodrome is a nightmare which blurs reality and fantasy when a Cable TV operator, played by James Woods, searches for new programming for his station. Videodrome will mess with your mind, and may even have you turning off the TV for a while.
Brainstorm (1983) directed by Douglas Trumbull.
Would you want your memories and experiences “recorded” and shared with others? That is exactly what happens in Brainstorm. As always seems to happen in these cautionary tales about technology, the technology ends up in the wrong hands, or is used for monetary or power gains. Brainstorm is a thinker, and it stars Christopher Walken amp; Natalie Wood.
War Games (1983)
Of all the movies to instill a sense of technophobia among the general population, no movie did it better than War Games. War Games was also fair warning to the dangers of hacking and video game overload.
War Games is also the most technologically dated movie, probably because it is set in a real time and place, not a sic-fi setting like some of the other films.
What is comical about War Games is how much it dates itself. At one point in the movie the character played by Matthew Broderick uses a found soda can tab to make a call on a pay phone. Some people may have no idea what that sentence means. Soda cans used to have a removable tab, with a paisley shape on the end of a ring. A pay phone is what people used before everyone had a cell phone.
War Games was also a cultural predictor of the obsessive qualities of video gaming, and the need to continue to seek harder, faster, better, more challenging games, even if it ultimately means the destruction of the world.
War Games came out at a time when school-aged children actually lived with the fear that “the Russians” would nuke us any. Made-for-TV movies like The Day After (1983) only solidified this fear and deepened nuclear paranoia.
Top Technophobe Films of All Time: 1990s
Johnny Mnemonic (1995) directed by Robert Longo.
Johnny Mnemonic is not the best technophobe film out there. It is worth watching, however, to see Keanu Reeves unknowingly prepare for his greatest role ever: Neo.
Hackers (1995) directed by Iain Softley.
Hackers deserves mention because it is a cool film. It is also a warning about greed, the dangers of hacking and getting caught, and how much of our lives have been digitalized.
The Net (1995) directed by Irwin Winkler.
The Net tells the story of a telecommuter who is also a hermit, gets caught up in plot, and lets her naivete about the real world get her into some seriously dangerously situations. Some people like this movie simply because Dennis Miller dies.
Gattaca (1997) directed by Andrew Niccol.
Gattaca is one of those movies that plays lightly but has a slow and effective mind burn. On first viewing, Gattaca seems to quiet and subtle. Days, weeks, and even months alter, moments from teh film will resonate. Gattaca explores the ethics and consequences of genetic engineering. It also delves into the societal fissures created by genetic engineering, and the perception of which genes are “superior” or inferior.
There are always times when we get paperwork that we would like to save and that we find important to keep for future use. Most of the time we choose to store it in a filing cabinet and keep it there until we need to drag it out again. I know some of you are saying that you could just use a scanner to scan your files into your computer and get rid of the filing cabinet, but then you still have to shred the paper to make it disappear. In the long run a filing cabinet is cheaper than buying a shredder and a scanner as well. That’s why this new invention could change all that and change how paper storing operates for good, by employing a scanner and a shredder all in one.
So what is this new invention called? Well it’s called the ScanSnap made by Fujitsu company and it works by creating a scanner which will scan the document you wish to shred and then create a PDF image of that same document so that it can then be stored onto your computer. In this way the scanner disappears and you’re left with a shredder that can do both operations. With this type of invention you no longer have to worry about filing cabinets, though I know that this won’t make them obsolete, so don’t worry file cabinet making companies, you’re safe for now. The main drawback to such an invention is that it costs $1,001, which can be quite expensive, but the small size and portability of the unit makes it very cost effective. It doesn’t need any additional power cord like your scanner or shredder used to as the same USB that hooks to your computer also helps to power the unit itself. The other major drawback I found with such a unit is the fact that it is only for MACs at the moment. I’m not docking MACs in any way, but it will probably hurt the sales of a otherwise great product because it’s not employed to all available markets and its price already turns some people away from buying.
While this new invention has major drawbacks due to its price point as well as the fact that it is only available to MACs at the moment, I still think that it will do very well in the market. As long as the invention itself gets converted to also be used on PCs, the amount of success this product could have with consumers is endless. Even with the higher price, people who are looking to save space and time will want to buy one. Though it takes only a little bit of extra time to scan and shred documents, the fact that they can do both at the same time will save them a lot of money in the long run. The fact that someone was this innovate means other companies can now start making their own versions of the product and sell it even cheaper to consumers and make them better with even more capabilities, which means great things for the future and home and office use as we know it.